Environment Minister Kęstutis Navickas says that Karmenu Vella, the EU commissioner in charge of environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, has assured him that the European Commission supports Lithuania in raising safety issues at the Astravyets nuclear power plant, which Belarus is building just 50 kilometers from Vilnius.
Astravyets nuclear power plant in Belarus
© AFP/Scanpix

"We spoke that we needed the European Commission's support regarding the environmental impact assessment report. I mean that we have not received it in a qualitatively acceptable way and that the processes are not yet over," Navickas told BNS by telephone from Brussels after meeting with Vella.

"On the whole, we want a united voice on the Astravyets matter. European security standards should be applied in Belarus. The commissioner promised to pay attention to everything and to support us on all issues," he said.

Lithuania says that Belarus fails to follow safety standards in building the plant, but Minsk rejects the criticism as unfounded.

A number of mishaps and incidents have occurred on the Astravyets construction site. The most serious technical incident took place last July when a nuclear reactor shell was dropped during tests. Russia's Rosatom, the plant's builder, has replaced the shell, delaying the launch of the reactor for at least half a year.

Belarus is building two nuclear reactors of 1,200 megawatts each in Astravyets, with the first unit planned to be switched on in 2019 and the second one in 2020.

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